tv NBC10 Issue NBC January 17, 2016 11:30am-12:01pm EST
starts now. ♪ look up here, i'm in heaven music icon david bowie died just days after releasing this chilling song, likely his farewell to the world.xíq today we discuss philly's love affair with the song writer and how our town helped launch his and several other famous rock groups' careers. i promise to reduce crime by 50%. >> that, plus a change of mind, wn of chester about why he is not ready to give up his other day job. good morning. i'm george spencer. david bowie's death from cancer
last week came as a shock to just about everyone. few people besides the close inner circle of family and friends knew that the musician was ill. david bowie was a rock music icon for more than 40 years, he was known for hits like space odyssey, changes and rebel rebel. he died two days after his 69th birthday. bowie had strong connections to our area. two of his most famous albums were recorded right here.p7é a marker denotes the spot in center city where bowie worked. nbc 10's denise nakano has the details. >> reporter: a tribute to rocker david bowie outside the old sigma sound studios, that's where the singer recorded some of his young americans album in 1970s. long time wwmr dj believes that
bowie came to philly to capture the music magic in the air back then known as the philly sound. >> the studio was known to have a rich tone to it so a lot of artists recorded there but to our great surprise and pleasure he was one of them. >> reporter: bowie also recorded his first al thumb david live in upper darby. bowie reminiscedra,dq with his connection to our town. >> i have major performances that debuted in philadelphia. >> i felt like an outcast as a young kid. he was sort of somebody to look to who was like you if you were not like everybody else. >> someone like david bowie actually became a role model for success in an unconventional form. >> his loss is really hitting a lot of people very hard. >> they're getting this double whammie, we didn't even know he was sick. not only is he sick he released a brand new album.
his birthday was a couple days ago and now he's gone. >> and joining me now is local music historian and publ sit randy alexander and michael tasia. he is a rorlgd engineering who worked with david bowie and also the sewn of joe tarsia. we thank you so much for being here. randy, i want to set the stable for this conversation a little bit and start with you. we heard in denise's package the mention of this philly sound and david bowie being attacked to that. when you hear the firm a philly sound, what did that mean at that time? what was the attraction? >> well, the philly sound really was carved and branded through kenny gamble, leon huff, the sound of philadelphia. >> big names in philly. >> icons. philadelphia international records. you know, they were cranking out hits, they were philadelphia's answer to motown in the mid '70s, which was their peak
years. >> right. >> and that was -- their impact on the music industry was so big that they were attracting other artists who wanted to come to philadelphia to capture the magic, capture that philly soul, the jack sons came here and recorded with gamble and huff, elton john did an album later here with tom bell who was partners with gamble and huff. david bowie came here because of what gamble and huff brought to philadelphia but he did not record with gamble and huff, but he did record in the same studio which was sigma sound. >> i have to say, though, gamble and huff had a pit crew of musicians just like motown and baker hourds and young is really the reason why bowie came in, because he wanted to work with the musicians that did all those hits. >> so he was attracted by everything else that was happening in the philadelphia music scene and saw that as something that meshed with what
he wanted to be a part of it sounds like. >> absolutely. and then they didn't want to play with him. >> really? >> yes. >> in what way? >> well -- >> the response was not what he had hoped? >> i believe it wasn't what he hoped because what happened was ronnie baker was a friend of mine and i was talking to all the musicians and basically gamble and huff and the stuff they were doing for other, you know, groups in town, they were on the top, they had 10% of the top ten chart. so here is a guy coming in with shaved eyebrows and orange hair from another country and he wants to userp their sound and they were like why should we give him our sound. >> you reference that had appearance and for so many people that is what lingers, in addition to the music, it's the look, the stage presence, the drama that was the stage presence of david bowie and his
appearance. that made him a forefront forerunner on the cultural sounds. who were his influences? >> burke toll brekt was a name he named a lot. he was an actor and so you music to theater. >> little richard to me was the '70s little richard but on a broader base and broader picture. he saw mice i can as theater and i don't know that anybody really knew who the real david bowie was because he was always in character, always an actor, ziggy star dust, all these different characters. >> all in persona it seemed. >> always in persona. you're coming out of the '60s. the woodstock era where people were letting their hair down and just free flowing and he just brought a whole new futuristic kind of a length to rock and roll through a theatrical approach. >> what other musicians were also influenced by what was happening in philadelphia and the way he was?
>> where do you begin. >> gladys knight and the pips, vanessa williams, barry white. >> truly some biggest names of that name. >> yeah. >> i wonder, mike, from your seat, your perspective, because we think so much about that stage presence that we were discussing. how over the top it was. and yet when you were in the recording studio environment with him -- >> right. >> -- i understand your perspective was the david bowie who was very respectful, who remembered people's names. talk to me about that. >> i did a live radio concert with him decades later and he always said in interviews that those were the -- he didn't remember much of that time from, you know, the era of the partying and everything else. and at the end of the show we talked for about an hour and a half and he knew every single person's name down to the janitor and there was no way he
could have researched that. i mean, he must have had a photographic memory and in the studio during the original recordingings of young americans he dressed down very conservatively, he was very soft-spoken and he was so intelligent that he could multi-task. it was amazing. >> so in this way, mike, truly the david bowie we saw on stage really was a stage character and in person it sounds like he was a different guy. >> yeah, i think he -- i think he put on the grease paint or put on -- >> the whole look. >> the whole look and decided to go out there and to put a persona on, but behind the persona there was a lot of thought and depth behind that. >> and i've got to imagine as the son of the founder of sigma sound studio being there when you were younger and witnessing a whole parade of singers and musicians coming through there,
david bowie chief among them, one among them. how cool that must have been as a younger person to witness that and kind of see it so up close. >> do you know what, in one way it was because it was rock music and we were known for r & b, and in another way joe always said everybody puts their pants on one leg at a time so we never got impressed by who -- the same, because when you wauksd in that door just like him being a person persona, everybody had -- there was an equality going on. we are all working together for the same goal. >> and he worked hard in this studio. randy, one thing i was thinking about from your perspective is what kind of kept him coming back? i mean, it seems that philly really earned a spot in his heart over time and what was it? >> well, first of all, it predates -- philadelphia's place in david bowie's heart predates sigma sound by we'll say 1972 was really when it started.
when david bowie -- when wmmr really broke him in this market and broke him so strongly that when he wasn't able to maybe draw, you know, several hundred people in most cities around the country, here a couple of promoters named rick and stu green from a company called midnight sun decided to take a chance on him and booked him at the tower heat theater and he ended up playing three nights, that's 9,000 seats where i could probably do 900 in any other market. that was the big imprint. they were the guys that took the chance on him and he ended up playing numerous shows, snum rouse multi-night runs at the tower theater over the next year or two and that was really the springboard. >> very interesting. we will have more to talk about randy and mike, stay right where you are, we will have more on musician david bowie and his connection to the area when nbc 10 @ issue comes back.
it was a shock. i wasn't prepared. i didn't think this was going to happen for a long time and he's just somebody who i grew up with and has been incredibly important to me. >> that was a local fan reacting to the death of singer song writer david bowie. bowie died a week ago from cancer and we are back now with music publ sit randy alexander and mike tarsia to discuss -- mike the sound engineer, the son of the founder of sigma sound discussing bowie's impact on our area. randy, you and i were talking, he was someone who was really taken from philadelphia from the very beginning but david bowie paid it back to this city. >> constantly paid it back. if you start with the tower theater in 1972, he kept coming back. first of all, three albums in philadelphia, not two, three. he recorded david live at the tower here obviously. >> right. >> young americans at sigma. >> right. >> and there is a third one in
1978 he recorded parts of a live album here called stage. he came out on stage and he told the audience we're going to be recording tonight did he spectrum and he taped that. 1983 the serious moon looit tour which to that point was his probably creative and commercial peak. a, he did more shows in philadelphia than any other city, b, the second single from that album let's dance was called "modern love" and the music video was shot in philadelphia at the spectrum during a concert here. >> mike, he did a live radio show, too. >> he came back -- >> and, mike, i know from where you were sitting as a young child with the role of your family -- >> as a teenager. >> as a teenager -- with the role of your family in all of this, there's a great story about -- obviously he had legion of fans wherever he went, but here in philadelphia there were stories about, especially the young girls who were trying to
kind of get as close to this superstar as they possibly could, right? >> right. i mean, literally i would go into the studio and have to climb over bodies. we were in the red light district, we were next to chinatown and during that period it wasn't the safest of neighborhoods and all these suburban kids were out there sleeping on the step waiting for david. one of the stories was that i wound up dating somebody years later and she told me a story that she was one of those people and that they went into the bar clay or wherever david was staying and they stole maids outfits, dressed as maids to get in his room to be that much closer to him. >> i wonder what each of you gentlemen think about david bowie as the outsider. so aus tashs on the stage, perceived as speaking for the outsider by many of his fans and yet beloved in blue collar
philadelphia. how did d. that work, randy? >> you know, it's really strange. philadelphia has had a knack for latching on to a lot of artists early in their career, especially at that time, the early '70s, through mwwr, they were breaking billy joel, bruce springsteen, david bowie, yes and genesis, some of those acts are british, some are american, but for some reason there's something in the air or in the water here or as you say -- >> water. >> water, that attracts, you know, this so-called blue collar bunch pail carrying town to great artists. it comes down to the passion. there is a passion in philadelphia, you could correlate it right to the sports fans here, a special passion, and i think really that's it. when they see something that really grabs them they just -- they just embrace it like nobody else. >> it was part of american band stand. american band stand broke so many acts. >> we have a history.
>> as you guys were saying as much as philly loved david bowie, david bowie loved philly back. >> absolutely. >> gentlemen, great reminiscing with you and talking about that firsthand perspective. michael tarsia and randy alexander thank you so much for being here. coming up, the new mayor of chesting has his work cut out for him. we will tell you why he wouldn't resign as state representative to run the beleaguered city just yet. but with the citizens bank education refinance loan, it gets even better. you know those people who pay a little extra and get all the legroom in coach? that could be you, if you refinance your student loans. i can refinance, even with 4 loans from undergrad? yes, you could replace your student loans with one new loan at a lower rate and save money on interest. sounds easy! it is easy! just ask us how much you can save at 1-866-999-0218 or visit lightenyourloan.com our customers have saved an average of $147 a month- more than $1,700 a year! so treat yourself to something from that in-flight magazine!
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thadius kirkland thank you for being here. obviously that dual title we just mentioned, you are going to stay on as a state rep for how much longer and why? >> let me thank you for inviting us here to be part of this conversation. >> glad to have. >> you we're staying on because we have the responsibilities to the taxpayers of the 159th legislative district. i was voted in as a state representative for another term, which is two years, and we are in a budget season, the budget process. very unusual budget process at this time. >> absolutely. >> this is the first time in my 23 years of being a legislator that we have ever had to go through such a lengthy budget process, one that is so filled with controversy, one that is so filled with sometimes mean-spiritedness. so i feel obligated to the people of the 159th legislative district to remain as a state legislator as well as the nay i
don't remember until we get through this budget process and maybe even beyond. >> will you depart from harrisburg once the budget is finally signed, sealed, delivered? >> my goal is to depart from harrisburg at the end of my term. end of my term will be november. seeing that what we're going through now, i will probably end up going through another process of the budget. >> the final question on that topic, then, i guess, sir, is managing both#÷>; those responsibilities. can you give chester what it needs and at the same time giving your boarder constituency, the ones you take to harrisburg, what they need in terms of representation? >> i think we will be able to give them even more. this has been a great learning and growing process for me. one of the things about being mayor of the city of chester is that you learn how to delegate and not dictate. i have learned that down through the years if you have good people in place, good staff, good personnel, we have -- i'm working with a great number of members of council, my
comptroller is an awesome individual, we have a chief of staff that we rely heavily on. so if you have a great personnel that is working along with you you can get the job done. as far as the state level part is, we've been there, done that, we have a great staff in harrisburg and in my district office and we feel compelled to remain there and continue the good work and encourage those persons who are going to come behind me to do just as good if not better. >> in the city of chester you have mades, a bold promise talkg about the idea of cutting crime )(p't amounts, 50%. how can that be possible? how can you actually cut crime so drastically? >> well, one of the things -- see, the other hat that i wear is i'm a pastor so, therefore, i'm a very man of faith. all things are possible if you only believe. not only if you only believe -- >> man of many hats. >> yeah. not only if you only believe but if you put the right personnel in place to make the things
happen. we are going to do some very aggressive policing in our community. i'm not talking about forceful stuff, i'm talking about community policing, connecting with the people in the city. never -- it hasn't happened in a long time where police officers and the community have actually engaged in a positive way. we're doing that. you put together a police -- a police -- policing team that has never been put together in this city. >> so much i want to get to, mayor. so i have to move through these topics quickly. the next thing i wanted to ask you about is improving chester's schools and your plan for that. how can we get the schools in your area to the point that parents and students want them to be? >> well, i've always told persons as our school districts -- school district goes, so goes our city. so the way we improve our schools -- number one, we have never had the fund that go we should have been down through the years. i won't say never, i will say in the last 10, 15 years we haven't
had the fund that go we should so we have had to cut programs, we have had to lay off teachers. we shouldn't have to do that. in other districts radner and surrounding districts, swathmore, all those other school districts get exactly what they need for their there are great teachers, they've got great programs and what have you. we are cutting. we shouldn't have to cut. we should be adding. >> i want to close with this question, mayor. as you look at your city what are the one or two things that are holding chester back right now? >> the one thing that is holding chester back, number one, is the crime issue, which we are focused on. and the second thing is not so much economic development, but job opportunities. >> right. >> and so what we want to do is make it available not just job opportunities, but careers for our young people. we want to encourage them to stay in chester, to -- that's where we go back to our school districts. >> right. >> making sure the curriculum is based on the opportunities that
tomorrow's greater philadelphia king day of service could turn out to be the very largest in the nation. 140,000 volunteers are expected to take part in nearly 2,000 projects throughout the region. gerard college in north philadelphia will host a healthcare, workshops and training sessions and this year's celebration will also note the 60th anniversary of the montgomery busboy cot. a big day and that is it for this edition of nbc 10 @ issue. next week our guest will be joe sestak. he is running for the democratic nomination for the u.s. senate. have a great sunday.
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